|A destination for Tourists of all ages throughout the year is situated at the extreme north of India. Kashmir is known all over the world as “The Paradise on Earth”.
Kashmir has four distinct seasons, each with its own peculiar character and distinctive charm. These are spring, summer, autumn and winter.
Spring, which extends roughly from March to early May, is when a million blossoms carpet the ground. The weather during this time can be gloriously pleasant at 23oC or chilly and windy at 6o C. This is the season when Srinagar experiences rains, but the showers are brief.
Summer extends from May until the end of August. Light woolens may be required to wear out of Srinagar. In higher altitudes night temperatures drop slightly. Srinagar at this time experiences day temperatures of between 25oC and 35oC. At this time, the whole valley is a mosaic of varying shades of green – rice fields, meadows, trees, etc. and Srinagar with its lakes and waterways is a heaven after the scorching heat of the Indian plains.
The onset of Autumn, perhaps Kashmir’s loveliest season, is towards September, when green turns to gold and then to russet and red. The highest day temperatures in September are around 23oC and night temperatures dip to 10oC by October, and further drop by November, when heavy woolens are essential.
Through December, to the beginning of March is Winter time, which presents Srinagar in yet another mood. Bare, snow-covered landscapes being watched from beside the warmth of a fire is a joy that cannot be described to anyone who has not experienced it. Some houseboats and hotels remain open in winter-these are either centrally heated or heated with ‘bukharis’, a typically Kashmiri stove kept alight with embers of wood, quite effective in the winter.
Other Tourist Attractions
Apart from Gulmarg, Pahalgam and Sonamarg, some of the world famous tourist resorts of Kashmir Valley are Achabal, Kokernag, Verinag, Daksum, Aharbal, Yusmarg, Aharbal, etc., which if elaborated will needs hundreds of pages. Some of the other world famous lakes present in the State are Wular and Mansbal Lakes in Kashmir Valley, Mansar and Surinsar Lakes in Jammu Province and Pangong Lake in Ladakh Province
Tourist Attractions of Kashmir:
The tourist attractions of Kashmir consist of some of the finest places in and around the valley. It is one of the most charming and scenic places in India. Sightseeing in Kashmir is mainly about appreciating the beauty of the nature. Glittering glaciers, snow covered mountains and picturesque hill stations all add to the tourist appeal of Kashmir. As you take a trip to the Kashmir valley you will get to know various untouched facets of the wonderful “Paradise on Earth”. Have a look at some of the popular tourist spots in the Kashmir valley.
The summer state capital is situated at an altitude of 1730 meters above sea level. It is connected by air to every part of the national network. The Srinagar Airport has already been recommended and sanctioned for the international status. Srinagar is connected by an all weather road to Jammu which in turn is connected to all parts of North India. At present Srinagar’s nearest rail head is Udhampur and the railway network upto Srinagar is in its final phase of operation
Hari Parbat Fort
To the west of the Srinagar City is the much lower hill of Hari Parbhat, which is surrounded by a fort. On this hill is the temple of Sharika Devi believed to be a form of Durga Mata or Shakti. The Mughal emperor’s fort crowns the peak of Hari Parbat hill. There is little of its former glory now, but the ramparts are still impressive and the old apartments within the fort, even though in a state of ruin, still convey at least a little of the grandeur of the Mughals’ summer retreat in ‘paradise’. The forest was later developed by an Afghan governor, Atta Mohammad Khan, in the 18th century
Mughal Gardens, as the name suggests, built in the Mughal period is a marvel located in Srinagar. These gardens are the major attractions of the tourists to Jammu and Kashmir. These gardens are the nice example of the Mughal style of constructing attractive places.
The name Mughal Gardens is given for the combination of three renowned gardens namely the Nishat Bagh, Shalimar Gardens and Chashmashahi. These gardens are tourists’ paradise and are beautifully decorated with bright flowerbeds, terraced lawns and well maintained cascading fountains. No tourist can miss these three nice marvelous gardens.
Cheshma Shahi :
Cheshmashahi is the first Mughal Garden you will pass after Nehru Park. Built at a height above the city, its views are as stupendous as its layout. The smallest of Srinagar’s Mughal Gardens, Cheshmashahi has only three terraces in addition to a natural spring of water enclosed in a stone pavilion.
The next garden along the road that encircles the Dal is the Nishat built by Empress Noor Jahan’s brother Asif Khan. The largest of the gardens Nishat has several terraces, a central water course and a majestic site between the Dal and the Zabarwan hills.
Shalimar (“Adobe of Love”):
The third Mughal Garden — the Shalimar was planted by Jehangir, the Mughal Emperor whose love for Kashmir was legendary. Shaded by magnificent chinar trees, the Shalimar is a series of stone pavilions and flowing water with paint box bright flower beds
Pari Mahal (“House of the Fairies”):
Pari Mahal is situated just above Chashma Shahi Gardens, about 10 km from Srinagar, in Jammu and Kashmir. It was once a Buddhist monastery, later converted into a school of astrology by Dara Shikoh – eldest son of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan.
Pari Mahal is a historic monument as well as a well-laid spacious garden. Situated around a small spring, the garden has beautiful flowering plants and various kinds of fruit. Although Pari Mahal boasted a large number of springs earlier, only a few can be seen today. The Mahal, on the spur of a hill, is illuminated at night and can be seen from most places in Srinagar. It overlooks the picturesque Dal Lake.
Gulmarg (“Meadow of Flowers”):
At an altitude of 2730 meters above sea level and at a distance of 56 kms., from Srinagar City. A huge cup shaped meadow, lush and green, with slopes where the silence is broken only by the tinkle of cow bells, Gulmarg looks like a fantasy set in a film and not surprisingly has been the venue of numerous Indian films. All around are snow capped mountains and on a clear day you can see all the way to Nanga Parbat in one direction and Srinagar on the other. From Gulmarg a pony track as well as a modern Gondola Cable Car leads upwards to Khilanmarg, Kongdori and Apharwat – the peak which looms up from this point is Alpather Lake a picturesque alpine lake, frozen till late June. For horse riding aficionados, Alpather Lake makes an existing day’s excursion starting early morning and returning late evening.
Horse Riding (Pony Ride)
There is excellent horse riding place in the open valley with beautiful green meadows. Pony riding is one of amusements for the tourists. The Horses or Ponies are available in large on hire.
Gulmarg has a beautiful golf course that is situated at a height of 2,650 meters above the sea level. Tourists who travel to Gulmarg visit this beautiful and panoramic golf course, if not to actually play the game, but to admire the lush green land slopes that incline gradually and form a sight to behold. Tours to Gulmarg usually offer you a temporary membership at the golf course
Skiing & Trekking
As far as adventure sports is concerned Gulmarg is a trekking base for those who trek to the Pir Panjal Range, Nanga Parbat and Khilalmarg. Tours to Gulmarg offer you facilities for hiring trekking equipment and local guides. Most of the resorts in Gulmarg provide all the facilities along with world-class equipment for those keen on skiing. Khilalmarg is an important skiing center. The skiing season commences in December and goes on till the month of April. The Gulmarg biosphere reserve is located at a distance of 48 kilometers from Srinagar and offers one of the most attractive wildlife tour and travel packages.
Pahalgham (“village of shepherds”):
Pahalgam is situated at an altitude of 2130 meters above sea let and is at a distance of 96 kms., from Srinagar City. At the confluence of the streams flowing from the river Lidder and Sheshnag lake, Pahalgam was once humble shepherd’s villages with breathtaking views. Now it is Kashmir’s premier resort, cool even during the height of summer. A number of hotels and lodges cater to all preferences and budgets, from luxurious to unpretentious trekkers, lodges, including fully furnished huts, partially concealed by giant pine trees. Around Pahalgam are many places of interest, and because the resort is set between fairly steep hills, it is worth hiring a pony rather than walking. Pony fares are posted at prominent locations.
Sonamarg (“Meadow of Gold”):
Sonamarg is situated at an altitude of 3000 meters above sea level and is 87 kms., from Srinagar City. The drive to Sonamarg is through yet another spectacular facet of countryside in Kashmir, this time the Sindh Valley. Sonamarg, which means ‘meadow of gold’ has, as its backdrop, snowy mountains against a cerulean sky. The Sindh meanders along here and abounds with trout and mahseer. Ponies can be hired for the trip upto Thajiwas glacier a major attraction during the summer months.
Dal Lake has rightfully become an icon of the Kashmir tourism industry. A Himalayan urban lake, it has five basins and a number of channels that are well linked with each other. There are plenty of fishes in Dal Lake and fishery is the second largest industry of the region centered on the lake. The sparkling quiet waters of Dal surrounded by snow-capped mountains on its three sides, undoubtedly mark it as one of the most beautiful lakes of India. It is also the second largest lake in the State of Jammu and Kashmir with numerous gardens and orchards all along its shores. Houseboats form an indelible part of the scenery of the Dal Lake that are always ready to take tourists to a romantic and peaceful ride of the lake and soothe their nerves as the houseboat floats over the slightly rippling waters. They also offer some of the most exotic views of the splendid scenery of the Dal Lake.
There are Shikaras that look like small ornate versions of the gondolas of Venice that offers ferry rides to and from the banks of the lake to the houseboats. The shores of the Lake houses the distinct Moghul monuments and the campus of the Kashmir University while the two hillocks overlooking the lake house Shankaracharya and Hari Parbat temples. The glorious Mughal gardens on its shores contribute to the beauty of the Dal Lake. Out of about five hundred gardens laid down in 16th to 17th century, only a few still survive. There have been controversies about the origin of the Dal Lake. While some geologists believe that the origins of Dal Lake lie in the Pleistocene Oligotrophic Lake that once covered the entire valley of Kashmir, others just believe it to be a flood plain lake. The floating gardens of Dal Lake are considered a beauty in themselves. One can find a number of restaurants and hotels at the lakefront that have sprung up, encouraged by the large influx of tourists here.